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With biomass to climate neutrality

From wood gasification to BioTfueL®

Wood carbonization plant in Hnúšťa-Likier, Czechoslovakia in 1925

1924: Wood brings first contract in the company's history

Uhde wins its first major contract in its history: the construction of a wood carbonization plant in what was then Czechoslovakia. It marks a ground-breaking move into the chemical use and conversion of solid hydrocarbons, and is the first step on an important journey towards today's use of biomass as a green carbon carrier for the climate-neutral production of chemical products.

Koppers-Totzek gasification invented in 1941

Coal beneficiation

Demand for coal beneficiation technologies starts to boom. By resolution of the Coal Syndicate, a "Gesellschaft zum Studium des Uhde-Verfahrens zur Herstellung von Primärbitumen" (Committee to Study the Uhde Process for the Production of Primary Bitumen) is founded and Uhde is tasked to develop its coal liquefaction technology to commercial maturity. The engineering of a large-scale coal liquefaction plant based on the Uhde process and a contract from Brabag in Zeitz for a plant to produce gasoline from brown coal follow. Heinrich Koppers and his employee Totzek also develop the patented entrained-flow gasifier, which, known as the Koppers-Totzek gasifier, is built 77 times across the globe and is used to produce ammonia, methanol, water and fuel. This gasifier outperforms currently established coal gasification technologies in terms of efficiency and the unwelcome generation of large amounts of byproducts.

Oil for the chemical industry

Oil takes off. Uhde is one of only three companies worldwide to which Texaco grants an engineering license for the worldwide marketing of Texaco's oil gasification technology. This lays the foundation for the construction of a number of Texaco oil gasification plants in the following decades.

Oil crisis and coal chemistry

The first oil crisis leads to the revival of coal. Energy experts expect oil and gas reserves to be exhausted in a few decades. As a result, technologies for the clean use of coal and biomass experience a resurgence. Uhde and Koppers confront the oil crisis with decades of experience in coal chemistry: The first Texaco coal gasification plant and the first Shell-Koppers coal gasification plant come on stream. Now, Uhde's coal liquefaction experience comes into its own: Uhde signs a cooperation agreement with Mobil Oil Corporation to build the world's first methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) plant for Union Rheinische Braunkohlen Kraftstoff AG in Wesseling. Today, MTG technology is once again becoming increasingly important for the production of e-fuels: in combination with green hydrogen and CO2 from industrial waste gases, it is possible to produce green gasoline from methanol (Carbon2Chem®).

Combined-cycle power plant

Based on the experience gained from the contracts for a peat gasification plant for ammonia production in Finland and a brown coal gasification plant for methanol production in Berrenrath, Germany, Uhde enters the integrated gasification combined-cycle power plant (IGCC) business with the KoBra project. The idea is that upstream coal gasification can power a combined-cycle gas and steam turbine power plant with coal and reduces CO2 emissions by 30% compared with conventional coal-fired power plants. In 1998, the world's largest ever single-train solid-fuel IGCC is commissioned for Elcogas in Puertollano, Spain: The plant generates 320 MW of electricity in a gasifier that converts hard coal along with refinery residues and biomass into clean electricity. In 2020, the uhde® entrained-flow gasification technology is run solely on biomass for the first time: in the BioTfueL project in Dunkirk, France. BioTfueL enables the climate-neutral production of aviation fuel (kerosene) generated from biomass and thus brings the company's 100-year history full circle - from its beginnings in Czechoslovakia to the present day.